To clean your foggy headlights, all you need is a cleaner (or some simple household products), a rag, a soft-bristled brush, and a bit of elbow grease.
Keeping your headlights clean gives your car an aesthetic boost, but it’s also important for your safety. When driving at night or in conditions with reduced visibility, you want to make sure your headlights are lighting up the road as much as possible.
Clearing headlight fog with homemade cleaner or a headlight restoration kit is an easy way to keep your car looking great and your commute home safe.
Here’s what you need to know about how to clean your car headlights.
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What causes foggy headlights?
Foggy headlights happen when the outer surface of your headlight lens degrades and causes your headlights to become dim. Over time, UV rays from the sun break down the plastic lens of your headlight, causing it to absorb more blue light. This leaves your headlights looking yellow, dingy, or foggy.
Before you get too deep into cleaning your car’s headlights, test the headlights in your garage or on your driveway. Make sure that the fogginess is from the headlight lenses and not a dim bulb that needs to be replaced.
Key Takeaway Foggy headlights are when the plastic lens over your headlight breaks down. Luckily, a good clean will fix foggy headlights.
What should I use to clean my headlights?
Headlight restoration kits are sold at most car repair shops or supply stores. There are also products around the home you can use for a DIY headlight cleaner:
- Baking soda
- Window cleaner
- Car polish
Both cleaning methods are effective at reducing foggy headlights.
How to clean foggy headlights
clean your foggy headlights, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Cleaning product—either a headlight restoration kit or products from your home
- Rags, microfibre cloths, or old towels that can get dirty
- Gloves to protect your hands
- Water for rinsing the headlight
- A soft-bristled brush to work in the product without scratching your headlight lens
- Mild cleaner such as soapy water in a spray bottle
Pro Tip If you’re worried about the cleaning product or soft-bristled brush scratching your car, you can use painter’s tape to protect the painted metal around your headlights.
Once you’re ready to clean your headlights, follow these steps to make them look good as new:
1. Wipe the debris from the surface of your headlights
Spray the mild cleanser onto the headlight. Use a rag to wipe away any caked-on dust, bugs, or other debris. Repeat this step a couple of times to make sure your headlight is clear before moving to the next step.
2. Dry the headlights
Use an old towel or rag to completely wipe away any moisture. Let the headlight air-dry for a minute or two. The headlight should be completely dry before the next step.
3. Apply cleaning product
Apply a generous layer of cleaning product onto the headlight. Check the instructions if you’re using a headlight restoration kit—some kits will include extra steps.
If you’re using baking soda, you may have to mix it with a little bit of water to make a paste that will stick. Leave the layer of product on the surface for a few minutes.
4. Use a soft-bristled brush to work in the product
Gently rub the brush in circles over the headlight. Don’t scrub or press too hard against the surface—you don’t want to scratch the headlight lens. As you work in the cleaning product with the brush, you should see the fogginess slowly wear away.
5. Wash off excess cleaning product
Use a clean cloth to wipe off any remaining cleaning product. You can use some water to rinse away any trouble spots. To finish up, buff the headlight dry with a rag or towel.
After a good clean, your headlights should now be a lot brighter and less yellow.
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